Decorating for Christmas with …

I know I am a lucky boy to have a garage (aka ample storage) in the city.  Walls lined with shelving is what helps me to keep my hoarding…errr collecting tendencies in check.  It also allows me to keep a nice little stash of holiday and other seasonal decor at my finger tips.  However, what happens when storage is at a premium and the thought of sacrificing precious closet space for Christmas ornaments is too much to bear?

Well that is exactly what we are talking about this month for my column…..


Matter of fact, what would you say if I said with some smart shopping, thoughtful planning and upcycling your year-round home decor, you could fit everything you need for Christmas into one box, including the a tree? Honest!  To get everything to fit into a box, think outside the box…..



And what if I told you to forget about holiday florals?  Don’t want to waste the money on temporary arrangements?  I am all about ditching the poinsettia for something more hip and perhaps even permanent…..


So are you tempted to learn more about my Christmas decorating secrets?  Well go visit to find out how you can have a fabulously decorated Christmas that won’t burst your bank or leave you bursting at the seams!

[photo credit: photo by adza//art direction & styling: courtney lake ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Cleaning Out The Prop Closet…

There comes a time in every designer’s life when you simply have too much stuff.  Actually I used the other “s” word to describe my predicament.  Between keeping a ready supply of goodies for client installs and styling shoots for clients, I found myself with a storage unit full of lamps, accessories and odds-and-ends that simply were not being used.  I am as much a hoarder as the next person, but sitting on these beauties seemed foolish and honestly a tad selfish.

Being the giving person I am, I partnered up with a fab local company called Previously Owned By a Gay Man or as I like to call them POBAGM to sell my little treasures.  While the company has a funny name, it has an awesome concept; work with local designers and taste makers to cull their closets/storage units and curate collections of gently used home decor and accessories to sell to the general public at fair prices.  When the owners approached me for a sale, I initially shuttered at the idea of saying goodbye to any of my pieces.  However, I had to remind myself that it does no good having a beautiful things in boxes on a shelf…..they are meant to be shared, appreciated and make friends jealous of your superior decorating skills (wink).  So I am parting ways with all these great things and more …..

POBAGM Slide 1


1) Vintage Leather Trunk:  I am second-guessing selling this piece because it’s so beautiful.  The leather is perfectly aged and would make a great coffee table or a piece at a foot of a bed….

2) Thai Sundial:  I love things on a stand or pedestal – they instantly have presence.  I have used this piece repeatedly in shoots to fill console tables or shelving.  It’s the perfect object d’art …..

3) Tortoise Shell Floor Lamp:  This sucker is heavy and crazy beautiful when lit.  Tucked into a corner, it provides the perfect ambient glow for reading or pipe smoking….

4) Mirror w/ Nailhead Trim:  Masculine and oh so cool, I loved this mirror and used it in a shoot in a gentleman’s bedroom.  Hang by your front door to give yourself the once over before heading out……

5) Megaphone Pendants:  I was so bummed the client opted not to use these in their kitchen.  I loved their simplicity and geometric quality.

POBAGM Slide 2


6) Octagon Mirror:  It’s a big geometric beauty that I wish fit in my home.  Faceted mirror on all sides and angles that reflect light beautifully.  I am tempted to redesign our master bath just to keep this…

7) Persian Rug:  It’s a slightly larger than 5×8 wool antique Persian rug for cheaper than what you can get a synthetic bath mat.  I was smitten with the purples and red in the piece – dark, mood and dramatic….

8) Vintage Boy Portrait:  I like portraits.  Blame Emily Henderson…or thank her.  Regardless, I used his brother as inspiration for Christmas but couldn’t find a home for him.  So don’t let him be an orphan this holiday season.

9) Trio of Brass Cage Pendants:  Sometimes you buy stuff and think about it later.  Well it’s now later.  I bought these on a whim thinking that the right client would emerge.  They never did to my chagrin.  Brass plated with red wire and brass ceiling mount, these would rock on a bathroom or as bedside lighting for the more adventurous.  Can be purchased individually as well.

10) Pair of Silver Lamps:  Art Deco in feel but with a jute/linen shade….it’s like the Beverly Hillbillies!  These were used as desk & bedside table lamps and now they can serve you!

POBAGM Slide 311//12//13//14//15//16

11) White Shield Mirror:  I love this mirror – it a class shape and the white makes it so fresh.  It wanted to use this in a bedroom but got nixed.  Sadly it never found a home after that…..

12) Brass Urn Lamp:  I call this lamp Earl.  I don’t know why but when I found it at an estate auction, I was instantly smitten with its massive side and grandeur.  This could look “hotel-y” in the wrong room, but i would center it on a console in a hallway and flanked with piles of books, everyone would call you the Earl of Cool….

13) Jonathan Adler Sconce:  Funny story about this sconce….actually not that funny because I bought the wrong thing for a client.  Somehow I bought the sconce when we needed the pendant.  So my stupid mistake is your gain.

14) Tripod Floor Lamp:  So this lived in my home for many years and eventually it found itself in the garage along with numerous other lamp casualties.  It’s a great lamp with a telescoping base but as with all things in life, my style changed and the lamp needs a new home…

15) Seascape Painting:  I initially bought this piece for the frame but the oil painting grew on me.  This would be great as part of a larger gallery wall or simply hung by itself.  The frame gives this piece such presence as I could see it as part of a simple but striking vignette with the brass urn lamp….

16)  Silver Urn:  This has been an umbrella stand, end table and planter in different photo shoots.  Translation – this little guy is versatile!  

I am adding more items as things sell, so check back to see what other goodies I weed out.  I wonder if doing all this sharing can get me off Santa’s naughty list because y’all know I need all the help I can get!  Now quit reading and start shopping!

[photo credit: michele hofherr]

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Throw Back Thursday: Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Tablescape…..

I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to look at a Christmas tablescape I did last year for the Nate Berkus Show. I created a tablescape I labeled “Chinoiserie Chic” – it had elements from several Asian cultures mixed with a traditional Christmas vibe.  I combined the traditional color scheme of red and white but filtered through the use of non-traditional decor like wicker lanterns, shadow boxes, paper flowers & fans.  Throw in some overtly Asian touches like red envelopes and you end up with what I am calling a “Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Table” ……..

The tablescape is anchored the the large handmade paper flower on the window…

The mural consists of about 17 different paper flowers made from a variety of papers including cardstock, wrapping paper, tissue and my personal favorite, the red glitter paper.  I added red clip-on bejeweled dragonflies as an unexpected surprise and to continue with the non-traditional Asian motif.

The centerpiece is composed of a manzanita branch I sprayed lacquered red, white wicker lanterns, clear glass bulbs and the red clip-on dragonflies.  Poinsettias in lanterns and a trio of modern glass candlesticks finish off the centerpiece.

The Ralph Lauren Pagoda print dinner and salad plates were the inspiration for the entire tablescape and their graphic design is the perfect counterpoint to the organic nature of the manzanita branch.  Each plate setting had a red envelope which is traditionally used in Chinese culture to give money during special occasions. I opted to fill each envelope with a different kind of currency –  individualized notes to each of the dinner guests telling them what they mean to me.

In lieu of flatware, I opted for red wooden chopsticks propped on a small ceramic poinsettia leaf on top of red cotton napkins. Two different champagne flutes were used for the table to give varied height and visual interest.

A customized shadow box placemat was created using a white shadow box frame from Ikea, lined glitter wrapping paper.  An inexpensive paper fan and swan chopstick holder were hot glued in each box to remind the guest of our trip to see to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.

Aside from the handwritten notes in the red envelopes, I wanted to be able to give each dinner guest a little something, so I created individualized flower arrangements in red Chinese take-out cartons.

Okay one more shot of the table before I send you off to do your last-minute holiday shopping and preparations……..

[photo credit: moi]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Of Gym Shoes & Sinks with Blanco ….

Gym shoes for many years were utilitarian.  White leather or canvas attached to a rubber sole.  Nothing that exciting but they got the job done.  Then came Nike and with Air Jordans.  Gym shoes would never be the same.  Actually gym shoes would quickly move to center court and become the de facto status symbol for many a young man.  Somehow, Nike and figured out the formula for making the ordinary quite extraordinary.

I think Blanco is the Nike of sink design.  Family-owned since 1925, Blanco’s humble beginnings included making copper galvanized parts for cookers and hot water bottles Fast forward 88 years and they have produced more than 40 million sinks and have come to be recognized as a world leader in quality and innovation.

Long gone are the times when a sink was merely used for function….

441518_MODX_SSing_AN_GL-T2_640 516095_Arcon_ss_FE_640 Blanco 1 FC_RD_SING_WH_GL_640


That was the sound of a “design slam dunk” by Blanco!

[photo credit: blanco usa]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

disclaimer:  blanco was a sponsor of blogtour london 2013 but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Thanksgiving Help from & ….

Can you believe that this time next week that it will be Thanksgiving?!?  Kinda crazy right?  Well don’t stress out because I teamed up with two different partners to show you how to avoid the Thanksgiving “craziness” ……..

Joyus Screenshot

The online retailer invited me onto their web talk show to discuss my short cuts and tips on throwing a stress-free holiday party and creating beautiful holiday tablescapes.  In the segment I show three different table settings that can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through New Years without breaking the bank or you in a cold sweat!  It’s all about creating a fun and easy approach to decorating.

Courtney Lake Thanksgiving Buffet

For my monthly column at, I am talking about how to set up a Thanksgiving Buffet.  Whether you are opting for a more relaxed holiday this season or a simply don’t have the room in your abode, I show how you can create a beautiful buffet that will wow your guests and leave you with time to still enjoy the meal!

And next week for all you procrastinators still in need of a menu, I break down my picks for simple, quick and yummy Thanksgiving dishes!  So relax I got you covered this holiday season!  Now I just have to follow my own advice and get started!  Sometimes the “teacher” is the worst pupil.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to start planning own menu…..

[photo credit: by adza]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Enjoying the Rainbow With Lamps Plus …

Hi – my name is Courtney and I like color.  I love a beautiful neutral space, but color gets my heart racing.  Color gets me excited.  Color is my equivalent of “design MSG” – I think everything looks better with a touch of it.

Thankfully, the folks at Lamps Plus think the same thing because they recently launched their Color + Lighting Collection featuring over 100+ colors and a variety of different lamp styles.  From the classic gourd to groovy floor lamps, this collection really covers the gamut and gives something customers more options than even many custom lighting companies I have worked with in the past.

Lamps Plus has a huge selection of lamps outside its Color + collection that features beautiful colors.  If you lean more towards modern then I suggest the Delta Peacock Lamp from Robert Abbey…..

Robert Abbey LAmps Plus

For a lamp just shy of 2 feet tall, it packs quite a design wallop thanks to its geometric shape.  Just like the Color + Collection, it comes in a multitude of colors including new two-tone variations which I absolutely adore.  It is on my short list (I know – bad pun!) for at least two different clients – one we will use it in their office and the other will find itself on his night stand.

So embrace your inner Rainbow Bright and throw caution to the wind!  After all, it’s only color!

[photo credit: lamps plus//collage credit: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

disclaimer:  lamps plus was a sponsor of blogtour london 2013 but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Daydreaming About Laufen Bathrooms …

I don’t care if you call me a day dreamer.  Everyone who knows me can testify to my overactive imagination.  I concoct absurd scenarios in my head all the time.  This week I was listening to a song and instantly imagined myself possessing superior martial arts and gymnastics skills defeating a room full of armed terrorists using nothing but my belt and chair ala a lion tamer. It’s especially odd since I was listening to a classical piece of music.   In another fantasy I am “discovered” by a famous interior magazine editor ala Devil Wears Prada and whisked into a fast paced life of international design jobs, wild parties and being pursued by overly attractive 40ish millionaires with a thing for skinny dudes.  And of course, all the while I am wearing fabulous outfits.

But I have this other fantasy ….. it involves bathrooms.  And before you go all Fifty Shades of Grey on me, it isn’t what you think.  What it involves is designing the perfect bathroom.  It’s the one room in my design portfolio that I have yet to fully tackle.  Sure, I get to do the occasional lipstick job, but I have yet to sink my teeth into a juicy gut job where I get to use the pieces I dream about.  I am currently pitching a bathroom right now and should I get it, there is a strong possibility that some beautiful pieces from Laufen Bathrooms will be put into the mix for consideration….


Since many of my projects are condos or small spaces, I particularly like how Laufen Bathrooms has dedicated considerable time, energy and design resources in creating lines that are designed for the urban dweller.  While not specifically designed for small spaces, their ILBAGNOALESSI One line is a beautiful melding of organics – organic lines & organic materials creating a sense of space that is typically lacking in small bathrooms where the defacto is boxy, boxy boxy.

LB3 Laufen

And while I love a freestanding bathtub, more often than not, my predominately male clientele doesn’t.  Fortunately, Laufen’s LB3 shower tray is perfect!  I know it’s odd to get excited over shower trays but the LB3 is seamless, sleek and just damn sexy.

B 25637 Form Laufen

Palomba Collection

But even though my clients may request showers, I still like to consider myself the “tub pusher” because they bring such a sculptural quality to a bathroom should you have the space.  And these three – the Form ILBAGNOALESSI dOt and Palomba are my choices from Laufen for the perfect melding of style and function.

Since fantasies are ever changing, I think I have a new one where I find myself sitting in one of these Laufen beauties overlooking the ocean as one of those dazzling handsome millionaires from my other fantasy pours me a glass of champagne…..ahhh.

[pictures courtesy Laufen Bathrooms]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

disclaimer:  laufen bathrooms was a sponsor of blogtour london 2013 but all thoughts and opinions are mine.